Curbing Road Damage from Heavy Vehicles Focus of Joint Cambodia, ADB Event

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - Curbing road damage from large, heavily loaded freight vehicles in Cambodia and neighboring Greater Mekong Subregion countries will be the focus of discussions at a symposium to be held here on 4 July.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are jointly organizing the Axle Load Control Symposium which will examine overloading regulations and how they are applied in Cambodia, Viet Nam and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. It will also introduce a draft master plan for axle load controls in Cambodia that incorporates systematic planning and implementation procedures.

“The rural economy in Cambodia is becoming increasingly dependent on improved road networks yet provincial and rural roads continue to deteriorate because of a rapid increase in traffic including cargo vehicles carrying increasingly heavy loads,” said Shihiru Date, ADB Senior Transport Specialist.

Truck makers have been building wider and higher vehicles to reduce costs but the additional size and hefty loads they carry, including agricultural goods and construction materials, are causing substantial surface damage. The situation has been exacerbated by a rising amount of traffic in the Greater Mekong Subregion in recent years. Restoring quality roads is crucial for ensuring year-round access to markets and social services, especially for poor rural communities.

To address the problem, ADB has been assisting the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to establish an axle load control program for national and provincial roads. It follows pioneering support provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to formulate axle load legislation and put in place institutional structures.

“We are working closely with the Government of Cambodia to minimize risks through the establishment of weigh stations along major roads,” said Mr. Date, adding that the goal was to expand the number of load control points at strategic locations along national and provincial routes.

ADB is also extending broader support for road asset management in Cambodia, with $1 million in assistance planned before the end of 2011. The funds will help the Ministry of Public Works and Transport carry out feasibility studies and develop a project design plan for 150 kilometers of roads in Prey Vang, Svay Rieng, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu provinces which are earmarked for rehabilitation.  The studies will include geological, topographical, hydrological, and traffic surveys as well as environmental, social and poverty impact assessments and resettlement plans for households affected by road works.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region. In 2010, ADB approvals, including cofinancing, totaled $17.51 billion. In addition, ADB's ongoing Trade Finance Program supported $2.8 billion in trade.